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Preparing Your Family for Emergencies

Emergency Kits

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Ever since September 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., there has been a more direct threat of further attacks. The creation of the federal Homeland Security Department, the Terror Alert System and other approaches to protecting from attacks have focused on being prepared. Preparation comes on all fronts: nationally, in our states, in our communities and in our families.

I suspect it has crossed every father's mind at least once to evaluate his family's preparedness for an unexpected event. But what should a father do? Where can he look for resources? And what is most important among all the choices available?

The Homeland Security Department, along with various other federal, state and local agencies, offer a number of important recommendations. Based on their counsel, as well as some personal, practical experience, the following suggestions will help fathers start at a manageable level and move through the important steps to personal and family preparedness.

Create Emergency Kits.

Virtually every government emergency preparedness official will tell you that government resources in the case of an emergency take about three days to effectively mobilize. Therefore, every family should be ready to meet all the family's basic needs for a 72 hour period or more. Many sources recommend that a family should have two different emergency kits. One, which is more comprehensive, should be used when you are staying put at home. Another, lighter kit should be created so it can be carried with you if you have to leave your home.

The basic elements of an emergency kit include the following:

  • Water: You should store 1 gallon per person per day. For portable kits, I suggest three to five sealed packages of drinking water.
  • Food: You will want to store lightweight food alternatives. In our 72 hour kits, we have energy bars, crackers and peanut butter, fruit leather and some small boxes of cereal. You don't have to eat perfectly. You should be thinking survival.
  • Clothing: You will want a couple of changes of clothes in your kit. Tailor your clothing to your climate.
  • Emergency Supplies: We include things like flashlights, battery operated radios and a basic first aid kit. You will also want a three day supply of any prescription medications. A face mask is also a good idea to include in case of certain types of disasters.
  • Hygiene Supplies: A toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb or brush, soap and a towel and feminine hygiene supplies are all part of a kit.

The Homeland Security Department web page offers a number of checklists for creating the best 72 hours kits.

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